The Liceu in Barcelona is the Opera house in the city, it is also called the Gran Teatre del Liceu and it is located in La Rambla in Barcelona. It has been opened for some centuries now, it was inaugurated on 4th April 1897.
In 1837 the Philodramatic Lyceum of Montesión was founded in Barcelona and this is when all started, their objective was to promote musical education in the city and organize opera representations performed by their own students at the Lyceum.
A theatre was built named Teatro de Montesión and is where the operas were performed, the first one was Vicenzo Bellini's Norma on 3rd February 1838, the repertoire was Italian.
The building of the Liceu in Barcelona was funded by private shareholders which makes this opera house a bit more peculiar as historically the opera houses were founded by the monarchy as in other European cities.
You can see that in the building's architecture there is no royal box or any other ornaments relating it to the monarchy at all. When the Liceu opened to the public, it was the biggest opera house in Europe with 3500 seats. On 1861, the building was damaged by a fire and it was rebuilt again and it opened its doors for the second time on 1862 with Billini's I puritani. From the old building only the façade, the entrance hall and the foyer (Mirrors Hall) remained.
The Liceu has survived many damages during its history, and another one was in 1893, an explosion originated by two bombs thrown into the stalls by the anarchist Santiago Salvador. Only one bomb exploded though but killed twenty people and more were injured.
From 1940 to the 1960s the seasons were high-quality ones, after the Civil War, the Liceu had its ups and downs very much related to the political moment in the country and also the state of cultural activities and economy.
From the 60's to the 80's it went down and they had difficulties, but in 1985 they started a Consortium with the central government and the Generalitat -Catalonia's government- and there was an improvement of the artistic standard and started to attract back the audience.
The theatre was again rebuilt due to a fire in 1994, in order to improve the facilities and due to this aim to make it better, they preserved those parts unaffected. The auditorium was rebuilt with the same layout, except for the roof paintings which were replaced by new art works by Perejaume, and state-of-the-art stage technology.
The new venue had the same traditional horseshoe-shaped auditorium as before but with greatly improved technical, rehearsal, office and educational facilities, a new rehearsal hall, a new chamber opera and small performances hall, and much more public space.
The liceu nowadays
The Liceu is the opera house in Barcelona and produces and receives new productions each year. There is a permanent orchestra and choir and also some singers for the supporting roles. The repertory at the Liceu has the most performed titles in the world, there are also ballet seasons and some of the best known companies in the world come to perform in Barcelona too.
A visit through Liceu in Barcelona
If you are not an opera fan, don't you worry as seeing the Liceu on the inside is not only for opera lovers. You can do a virtual tour through El Liceu here or you can check out the video below with visual content of the inside of the building.
The Liceu has an incredible Auditorium that can't be missed as well as the Hall of Mirrors one of the most famous parts of the building and the inside can be visit. They offer a wide variety of timetibles to go around the building in a guided tour, that includes the vestibule, the auditorium, the hall of mirrors and the Circulo del Liceo. There are different kinds of tours: the general tour which is the one described above, the express tour that includes the Vestibule, Auditorium, Hall of Mirrors and the Foyer. There is also a premium tour backstage and you can discover private areas of Liceu going through the visit with a specialist guide.
You can find all the details of the tours at Liceu here.